Israeli forces attacked an anti-settlement rally in the locality al-Tuwani, south of the southern West Bank city of al-Khalil (Hebron) on Friday evening, wounding dozens of Palestinian protesters, Palestine’s official Wafa news agency reported, adding that several Palestinians activists were also detained.
The report, citing the head of the village council, added that Israeli troops, in full gear, hit protesters with rifle butts and opened fire at them, and shot tear gas canisters toward them.
A number of demonstrators suffered bruises and dozens of others, including international activists, suffered breathing difficulties due to inhaling tear gas.
The rally had been held to protest the expansion of the nearby colonial settlement of Havat Maon at the expense of the villagers’ lands in Shi‘b al-Butum, the report further said, adding that all casualties were treated at the scene.
Al-Tuwani, some 14 kilometers south of al-Khalil, is composed of two hamlets, and together with Masafer Yatta, a group of some 19 hamlets, cover 37,500 acres and rely heavily on animal husbandry as the main source of livelihood.
The whole area is located in Area C, which constitutes about 61 percent of the occupied West Bank and is under full Israeli administrative and military control. The area has been subjected to repeated Israeli violations, by settlers and soldiers alike, targeting villagers’ livestock, their main source of living.
Separately on Friday, at least seven Palestinian demonstrators were wounded when Israeli soldiers attacked two anti-colonization protests in the villages of Beita and Beit Dajan, in the West Bank city of Nablus, Wafa reported.
According to the Palestinian Red Crescent (PRC) in Nablus, two protesters were wounded by Israeli rubber-coated bullets in Beita, while three others were injured when they were being chased by Israeli soldiers in the village.
Dozens of other Palestinian protesters in the rally also suffered breathing difficulties due to inhaling tear gas.
In Beit Dajan village, two protesters were wounded when they were hit by Israeli rubber-coated bullets, while many others suffered suffocation from tear gas inhalation.
Additionally, several Palestinians suffered breathing difficulties due to inhaling tear gas on Friday when Israeli forces quelled a peaceful protest in al-Mughayyir village, east of Ramallah city, Wafa reported.
According to a member of the village council, Israeli soldiers opened fire at hundreds who participated in a protest rally against the ongoing closure of the eastern entrance of al-Mughayyir and in support of Palestinian prisoners exposed to brutal mistreatment while in Israeli custody.
Tensions have been running high in the occupied territories for months over Israel’s settlement activities and its planned eviction of Palestinian families from their ancestral homes. Many Palestinians have been killed and scores wounded in the Israeli crackdown on protests so far this year.
More than 600,000 Israelis live in over 230 settlements built since the 1967 Israeli occupation of the West Bank and East al-Quds. All Israeli settlements are illegal under international law as they are built on occupied land. The United Nations Security Council has condemned Israel’s settlement activities in the occupied territories in several resolutions.